One of the things I like the most about blogging is that really smart, fantastic people get in touch and send me their ideas on important subjects. Today, for example, I got an e-mail from a reader who takes issue with some of the points I make in my post about an on-going assault on tenure. This reader's comments were so great that asked their permission to publish them as an anonymous guest post. Enjoy and feel free to leave comments.
I think that your comment on a conspiracy to eliminate tenure misses the larger point. I believe that America is on a path to a Mexican style of governance where a small group of wealthy families control the majority of the net worth of the country and the political process. There is also a small and docile middle class. The majority of the society is poor, desperate and crime ridden. A necessary but not sufficient precondition for this situation to occur in America is the diminution of critical reasoning which the loss of tenure for academics would accentuate. The political discourse in America has been reduced to a series of logical tautologies (in the original Greek sense) and non-sequiturs packaged into sound bites. I think that a more appropriate term is a coalescence of parallel interests rather than a conspiracy and that a few examples would be useful at this point.
Stockwell Day, the Canadian minister of corrections, stated in June of this year that it would be necessary to spend billions of dollars on correction facilities due to an increase in unreported crime. If the crime is unreported then how can anyone draw conclusions as to a change in the volume of crime?
The conservative government in Canada eliminated the long census form for next year. If the census data doesn’t support the assertions on which you base your policies then eliminate the census. I’ll argue my anecdotal evidence and ideological stance against your anecdotal evidence and ideological stance!
Niall Ferguson, MA, D.Phil., is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and William Ziegler Professor at Harvard Business School. He is one of the luminaries who support the slashing of federal government spending in America to reduce the long term debt. An unstated effect of this policy would be an increase in the income disparity of the wealthy with the rest of society. In a recent conference, he argued his point on the fact that a linear projection of the current increase in debt implies that by the year 2080 the total debt would be three and a half times the GDP of the country and the Interest payments alone would absorb the entire federal budget. The math is impeccable but anyone who makes a seventy year linear projection is either a fool or disingenuous.
In recent TV commentaries (not just Fox news), President Obama is presented as a secret Muslim with socialist aspirations who is simultaneously a corporate lackey and a tool of big business. What can I say?
I don’t have a problem with people who make these statements. They’re only trying to advance their own agendas and I suppose it could be argued that I’m cherry picking in order to advance my thesis. I do have a problem with people who have the responsibility to their profession to query these assertions instead of soft ball questions and rapt attention. I’m a science guy rather than humanities person but I do have analogues. In undergraduate school, I remember that the dosage levels for drugs were implied to have been handed down from God or in more measured form that the pharmaceutical companies had done their “due diligence” and based their dosage range on careful, extensive and statistically valid studies. Later on in life I discovered that a lot of these ranges had been based on the results derived from studies on a rather small group of white, healthy, middle class males. When your non white, sickly, poor female did not show the expected response to the dosage, it was not biological variability or patient non compliance but a normal aspect of a systemic faulty analysis of the data. The patient in this case is the body politic and we desperately need people like yourself to objectively analysis the situation and offer solutions to very important questions which go beyond the usual boundaries of academia.